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    American Heist (2015): Movie Review

    “A crime thriller as forgettable as its title.” 

    Two brothers in conflict are the antiheroes of American Heist, the first English language film by Armenian director Sarik Andreasyan. This lamely-titled crime-drama thriller explores how far a brother’s love goes in a ludicrous story seasoned with cheesy romance, well-executed yet standard action sequences and social undercurrents. 

    After spending ten years behind bars, Frankie (Adrien Brody) finally sees the light of the outside world. All tattooed up Frankie and his rogue entourage immediately heads to a strip club for a night of extreme pleasures. But Frankie must work and his prison buddies Ray (Tory Kittles) and Sugar (Aliaune “Akon” Thiam) may have something to interest him. Pulling him back to the crime world, his badass pals urge him to participate in a bank robbery.

    James (Hayden Christensen), Frankie’s younger brother, is living a quiet live in New Orleans. Presently working as a mechanic in an auto-shop, James dreams of opening a shop of his own but such dream requires substantial amount of money. An old flame, police dispatcher Emily (Jordana Brewster) who has been gone for several years, comes back to town and reconnects with him. While working on her car via home service, James hopes to repair his relationship with her.

    Everything changes when Frankie visits James. After an initial brotherly scuffle, the two makes up with Frankie offering James a rare opportunity to realize his dream. However, James’ life turns upside down as he becomes accessory to murder and is blackmailed to pull a colossal bank heist. Betraying the woman he loves, James once again dives into the underworld to help the brother he cares so much.

    Unfortunately, American Heist does not successfully pull off a great scheme as the film is generic, cynical and illogical. Brothers in war are nothing new in crime films and reworking clichés in the genre only takes the movie deeper into oblivion. Aside from not having any personality, the film has plenty of bad logic, at times dense and ridiculous. When Frankie confesses to his brother how he was raped in prison with a tube of toothpaste, it was a moment of bad timing and sheer inanity. With James seemingly dull early life, it is a wonder as he emerges as an expert mechanic, car thief, and high-powered explosives master, talents much too handy for the job on deck. And of course, attempting to have some sort of socio-political impact, the movie points to the banks as the real villains in the society and that they are more dangerous than the army.

    The film’s climax also appears too long that it is quite exhausting to watch. Thanks for some amazing sequences, like the police helicopter crashing into a building and the robbers gate crashing a wedding party, that that part of the movie is not entirely dull. But then come some heroic acts which finally end the film.

    Stepping out of his comfort zone, Brody delivers an erratic and electrifying performance. He shows both the ruthlessness of Frankie as the thug and the tenderness as the brother. Lord, he dances too! Sadly for Christensen, he looks lifeless as there is nothing much to work about his character except brooding.

    Aside from Brody’s stirring delivery and Akon’s magnificent sound track, American Heist fails in all levels. With its generic plot and bad logic, the film is too unconvincing and forgettable.


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